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Columbia factory moving some operations to Mexico

A manufacturer will move much of its current Columbia production to Mexico with an initial round of layoffs planned for early May.

Watlow, which makes thermal systems, said in a news release Monday that it is moving its gas delivery and line heating production from its Columbia factory to a plant in Queretaro, Mexico. The items are used in making integrated circuits for the semiconductor industry.

The company said 41 people will be laid off initially, with their last day of work being Friday. Another round of layoffs will take place in July, the company said.

The layoff decisions were based on seniority, the company said.

Watlow opened its Columbia plant in 1979. The plant will now focus on making “higher-technology thermal solutions,” the company said. The move was long-planned, according to Watlow.

“We empathize with the team members that are being affected, and we greatly appreciate their service to our company,” said David Fawer, director of the local plant, in the news release. “The positions on the incoming production lines will require more complex skill sets to meet this new product demand. We plan to fill them by transitioning some of the remaining Columbia team members into these positions and providing them with additional training opportunities to grow and develop.”

Watlow has been moving some manufacturing to its Queretaro plant to free up capacity at its other locations, the company said.

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